Rolling Rally rumbles through Boston
More than one million fans turn out to salute champion Sox
BOSTON -- From the sunshine that bathed more than a million spectators to the dance-crazy members of the 2007 World Series champion Red Sox, "Rolling Rally II" had its own special flare Tuesday as Boston's baseball champions made their way through an adoring and grateful crowd.
Starting just after noon, leaving in more than 20 "Duck Boats," team officials, executives, players, coaches and staff began a three-mile winding journey that began at Fenway Park and ended near Boston City Hall.
And there were countless moments that captured the euphoria of the team's second World Series title in four seasons.
Unofficial grand marshal Jonathan Papelbon played air guitar with a broom with the "Dropkick Murphys," the group that sang Papelbon's entrance theme "Shipping Up To Boston" every home game at Fenway Park.
Papelbon made good on a promise to perform his special dance several times along the route, with the first time coming in front of the Copley stop on Boston's Green Line subway route, as the "Murphys" performed live behind him.
"This is cool," Papelbon said as he and the group greeted fans inside Fenway before the rally. "This means family to me. Dude, this is pretty unbelievable. For these guys to take me to heart and bring me in, is incredible. We're not going to stop and dance every five minutes but we're going to party one big party at City Hall."
With fans chanting "Re-sign Lowell," one of the more poignant moments came as Jason Varitek took a sign from a fan and held it up on his boat. The sign pleaded to Red Sox ownership to re-sign World Series MVP Mike Lowell, who can become a free agent this offseason.
"I'm looking forward to everything working out," Lowell said. "Like I've said before, I enjoy playing here. This is a good situation for me. I think it would be a good situation for a lot of people. I really don't want to dwell on that right now. I really want to enjoy a parade and this is eight months of hard work as a group we've been going through. We should celebrate today."
Red Sox principal owner John Henry, president/CEO and chairman Tom Werner were among the first to lead the three-mile procession toward City Hall.
Henry said the thrill of a second World Series title had just started to sink in as the parade began.
"I think so," Henry said. "It's been a few hours. The ride back yesterday just brought back feelings of 2004, bringing the trophy back to New England. It was a cold, rainy day. This is just a perfect day in New England. It'll be great for the fans on such a beautiful day."
With Lowell's contract situation on everyone's mind, Henry credited another leader who faced the same situation following the 2004 title run.
"The one person that hasn't gotten enough credit is Jason Varitek," Henry said. "We had the best pitching in the league this year. He's a leader among a group of leaders."
Before the rally, players spoke to a gathering of fans behind the first-base dugout at Fenway for over an hour before getting on the vehicles that would take them on the streets.
"Just to get through this celebration with as much enjoyment as possible," said Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino of his goal for the day. "It's like different flavors of ice cream. They're all different, but you enjoy them all the same. It's kind of hard to savor the excitement when you're excited and sleep-deprived.
"I just want to enjoy the day because bringing it to the fans is one of the most gratifying things of winning, after all," he added.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona was another team member looking forward to a little shut-eye once everything calms down.
"There's a time for that," Francona said. "Win or lose, you collapse, but this will be a little bit more satisfying. I think the last time, 86 years of a lot of stuff poured out from people. You don't know how fans will ever react. But regardless, this is for the fans and organization and letting them do it together."
An estimated one million fans lined the streets, 15-deep in some areas, for the celebration, which was held under sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-50s.
Curt Schilling and David Ortiz heard the cheers again Tuesday, just like Oct. 2004, when fans waited overnight to stake their spot along the parade route.
"There's nothing in the sports world that matches Red Sox fans and the Red Sox organization," Schilling said. "It's a special, special thing and it's something I'll forever thank God for being a part of."
"I just want people to have fun," Ortiz said. "You [fans] deserve this. This is for you guys. We stayed strong through the whole year. We have a lot of support from the fans. Our fans are the best, so hopefully they enjoy this. They deserve it."
Papelbon seemed to sum up the feelings of just about everyone who turned out Tuesday.
"I just [want] to go out there and let the hot air out of the balloon, fizzle down and let loose and have fun and just celebrate," Papelbon said. "I think [my teammates] just want to let me experience it on my own. We're going to have a great time. We're going to party out, party out."
Mike Petraglia is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.